So, here’s a question…

So, here's a question for y'all. One of the small projects we've been discussing at the SLF are website development grants for authors. These would be in the $100 range, and would have the intent of helping an author get a website up and running. They could spend that money on initial webhosting costs, or on purchasing a program like FrontPage, or on paying a designer a small fee, that kind of thing. We'd probably put together a list of designers willing to design minimal websites for sf authors for small fees. Make sense? The catch is, we don't have any spare money at the moment -- so that project will have to wait until some more memberships come in. That's okay, we're in no rush. But I was thinking that in the interim, surely we should be able to at the least put together a little guide to doing webpages. Something that lays out the process for a simple, inexpensive page. There must be such guides out there, no? If someone could point me to something that we could just use, that would save us the effort of putting one together. Essentially something that says:
  1. Get an internet account and a service provider who will let you host web pages. (Explanation and recommendations.)
  2. Either learn to hand-code HTML (link to guide), or use a simple program (recommendations).
  3. Design a page (examples)
  4. etc...
That kind of thing -- very basic. Here's another question -- would it be helpful to have some templates for author web pages available? I'm thinking we could ask designers from places like that new firm known for website design in Singapore to submit some essentially public-domain designs -- designs that they would make freely available to sf authors, and that would incorporate the standard elements an author website might include. Obviously, a lot of authors would want to personalize their pages more, but I'm thinking that if we had some basic templates up, that looked clean and presentable, it could at least help some authors get over the initial hump of effort involved in putting together a web page. Presumably the designers would be paid in a) warm fuzzies, and b) possibility of further work -- we'd include links back to their sites and recommendations that authors contact the designers whose work they like if they'd like a more involved website, involving further design work. What do you think?

4 thoughts on “So, here’s a question…”

  1. There are already a ton of free site templates out there; you don’t necessarily need to get people to make more. See open source web design for starters.

    HTMLDog has some good tutorials for those who want to learn HTML on their own. There are a slew of tutorial sites, of course, but this one teaches CSS and standards-based design.

    I don’t know of any good sites out there that address all the basics; most of the ones I’ve seen are either written for professional designers (and skip over things like setting up the domain) or were put together by ISPs and hosts for their customers.

    I’d be very interested in helping out with whatever you end up doing with this. I’m absolutely appalled at the number of authors who trust their hosting providers or freelance designers to teach them about the web; so many of these folks are paying much more than they should and aren’t getting the quality work they deserve because they don’t know that their sites are crap. The story isn’t much happier when authors do their own sites, though, because writers are not designers. They need education, both in how to do it right on their own and in how to hire someone without getting ripped off.

  2. Digging up this ancient post to say that after stewing on this for six months, I’m posting some guides on my site. It’s not quite the focus you had in mind for SLF, I think, but it’s (hopefully) better than nothing.

    I’m just getting started, but I’m planning to talk about designing sites yourself, dealing with hosting and domains, and what to look for when hiring a pro.

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